UPDATE MARCH 24TH: Maundy Thursday should be a public holiday once this year – but nothing will come of it. After massive criticism, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) announced on Wednesday that the “extended rest days” would be canceled on Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday.
In the original version of this article from Tuesday lunchtime, the AZ showed the effects of the Easter “rest days” on employers and employees. After the resolution was withdrawn, it has now been completely revised. The currently applicable resolutions can be found here.
Munich / Berlin – Since Tuesday night there has been confusion regarding the “extended rest period” decided by the federal and state governments around Easter with the “rest days” Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday.
Now there is certainty: The two days will not be “rest days” after all, the decision to rest at Easter has been overturned! This was announced by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on Wednesday afternoon after a briefly convened switch with the Prime Minister. Merkel apologized publicly and took full responsibility for the decision. “This mistake is entirely my fault,” she said. “I deeply regret that and for that I ask all citizens’ forgiveness.”
After the hour-long Prime Minister’s Conference, which lasted into the night, it looked for a long time as if Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday would be made public holidays this year. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also announced on Tuesday that the two days of this year would actually be made into public holidays, but a corresponding legal basis for this was still pending.
The Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) had said that the federal government wanted to draw up a model ordinance on the basis of the Infection Protection Act that regulates which shops and services must remain closed on the two days. Kretschmann said: “I would imagine that this would be a day of rest corresponding to the public holiday.”
Confusion about “rest days”: Ministry of the Interior should create legal basis
The legal basis referred to by Söder did not materialize, the Federal Ministry of the Interior should actually work out a model ordinance by Wednesday evening in order to clarify many of the outstanding “rest time” questions. That is now obsolete, because it was precisely these unanswered questions that led to the regulation being overturned!
One of the big problems where the regulation ultimately failed: In order to declare Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday to be public holidays, the public holiday law would have to be adapted accordingly. A regulation about this is difficult, however, because this would have to be decided by all federal states. The time was simply too short for that.
“Extended Rest Period” withdrawn from April 1st to 5th
At the beginning of the week, the federal and state governments decided on an “extended rest period” over Easter – Maundy Thursday (April 1) and Holy Saturday (April 3) should be regarded as “rest days” on which stricter rules apply. Among other things, the contacts should be limited, and there was talk of a gathering ban from April 1 to April 5 inclusive.
“The regulation will be analogous to Sundays and public holidays,” the Chancellor said at the press conference after the federal-state summit. “Of course, petrol stations will be open, there is no question about that. Just as certain companies can work on Sundays and public holidays, things will be regulated in a similar way on ‘rest days’.” In other words, if Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday had actually been declared “rest days”, work would theoretically have been permitted on these days – provided that a corresponding special permit had been obtained.
According to the state government, the Bavarian Infection Protection Measures Ordinance should be supplemented by the following passage: “Businesses, shops, companies and authorities remain closed on April 1, 2021 (Maundy Thursday) and on April 3, 2021 (Holy Saturday), as on the Easter holidays; April 3, 2021, only the grocery store will be open. ” This part is also now deleted from the regulation.
Employees do not have time off on Maundy Thursday
Because on Maundy Thursday this year, according to the MPK, the same rules would have applied on Monday as on a “normal” Sunday or public holiday, this would also have meant for employees that they would not have to work on this day this year. Even employees who are already working from home due to the Corona crisis would have had the “Easter Rest” regulation off on April 1st. “The day of rest remains the day of rest. So employees who would otherwise have worked in the home office can look forward to an additional day off,” said Marc-Oliver Schulze, specialist lawyer for labor law, on Tuesday.
Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday remain normal working days – employees have to work normally.
Who is allowed to work on “rest days”?
Regardless of the Corona crisis, according to the Working Hours Act (ArbZG, §10 (1)), work on Sundays and public holidays is only permitted in the following areas: emergency services, police and authorities, hospital staff, restaurant and hotel staff, employees at music performances, theater performances, in Churches, associations, clubs, parties, at sporting events, at radio and in the press, at trade fairs and markets, in transport companies, in energy and water supply, in agriculture and in the security industry, in cleaning operating facilities and the like.
Due to the pandemic, a number of these areas are of course no longer available – for example large parts of the gastronomy and cultural institutions.